On Thursday, September 6th, thousands of employees at Orlando, Florida’s Walt Disney World happily approved new contracts that boost starting wages to a minimum of $15 per hour. The new agreements also allow Disney to take in more part-time employees and require that workers stay in their first positions for more extended periods before transferring to other departments or roles.
The previous contracts for Disney employees stated that workers could change their positions after working in it for at least six months, while the new agreement requires employees stay in their first role for a minimum of one year before transferring elsewhere. Additionally, the union that fought for employees to get their raise agreed to an extension of Disney’s probation period. The old contract maintained that workers would be on probation for three months, regardless of the position, while the new probation period is six months.
With the new agreement, Disney is allowed to make 38 percent of their workforce part-time employees. Before negotiations, Disney was allowed 35 percent, though they have never reached their part-time worker limit with previous or current contracts.
Union officials for Disney employees have stated that the new contracts are also going to impact businesses outside of Disney World and encourage them to raise hourly wages in a naturally lower-wage economy. The new contract covers beloved characters, bus drivers, retail staff, makeup artists, lifeguards, and more; ultimately raising the wage of over 35,000 of the 70,000 employees at Disney World.
Outside of raising the starting hourly wage over the course of three years, the new contract also states that current employee wages are also going to increase by a minimum of an extra $4.75 by 2021. These workers are also going to receive a $1,000 bonus that Disney has had to pay after a tax cut last year. However, the bonuses were withheld during negotiations with the union.
George Kalogridis, the president of Walt Disney World Resort, has stated that their wage increase is going to have a real and massive impact on not just their employees, but the families of employees as well. George also maintained that the raise is an essential investment in central Florida and a boost to the local economy.
The development of the new contract expands into terms that include anti-discrimination protection for Disney staff members. Gender identity, expression, genetic and family information, pregnancy, and military and veteran statuses are all to be protected under the new contracts.
The finer details of the new contracts expand on which staff members are to be subjected to random drug testing and also adds an extra language. In the new agreement, managers have the right to supervise and control the way workers perform and complete their duties.
Disney workers have needed a raise for some time, and the Service Trades Council Union that backed Disney employees made that their entire focus. The president of the council has said that the raises are historical. They aren’t meant for those holding entry-level positions, but for every Disney employee who gets paid hourly.
There is currently no word on how much the hourly wage is going to increase year by year, and if it’s to be done in increments. The contract states that by 2021, the minimum starting salary is to be $15.00 an hour.